By Doug Halberstadt
“To do it at age 36, that’s not too shabby.” That’s the way Tiger Woods summed up his performance in the final round of the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance at the Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio, Sunday, June 3. The win was the 73rd of his professional career and ties him with Jack Nicklaus for all-time victories. Sam Snead holds the record with 82 wins.
Snead’s playing career spanned 30 years (1936-1965). Nicklaus collected his 73 wins in a span of 25 years (1962-1986). It’s taken Woods only 17 years to reach the milestone. His professional career began in 1996.
Nicklaus was there to meet Woods on the 18th green to congratulate him on his two-stroke victory over runner-up Rory Sabatini. Woods shot a final round 67 to secure the win, giving him a tournament total of 279. It was his fifth win at the Memorial.
On hole No. 16, Woods hit his tee shot 220 yards into the left rough, 50 feet from the hole. His next shot was nothing short of miraculous.
“Under the circumstances, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a better shot, it’s the gutsiest shot I’ve ever seen!” is the way Nicklaus described Woods’ chip-in for birdie on the par-3 16th.
Woods said his birdie chip-in was “one of the hardest ones I’ve ever pulled off.” It was the defining shot of the final round, and gave Woods a one-shot lead that he would only add to by birdying the final hole.
The victory was only the second win of the year for Woods. His last victory came back on March 25 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Woods will be looking for his 74th win in a little more than a week when he tees off at the U.S. Open Championship at the Olympic Club in San Francisco June 14.
If Woods does indeed surpass Nicklaus on the all-time wins list, he will still be trailing Jack on one other list. Nicklaus holds the record with 18 major championships. Woods is second on that list with 14 and would move to within three of Nicklaus with a win this year at the U.S. Open. Woods has three previous wins at the U.S. Open, his last coming in 2008.
Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at Dougster61@aol.com.
From the June 6-12, 2012, issue